Review: ‘Reckless’

What's a poor lovesick surgeon to do when he realizes he's infatuated with his boss's wife? That's the central dilemma facing Owen Springer (Robson Green). Granted, his object of desire is Anna Fairley (Francesca Annis), a drop-dead-gorgeous, independent-minded woman of means.

What’s a poor lovesick surgeon to do when he realizes he’s infatuated with his boss’s wife? That’s the central dilemma facing Owen Springer (Robson Green). Granted, his object of desire is Anna Fairley (Francesca Annis), a drop-dead-gorgeous, independent-minded woman of means. And the boss, well, Dr. Richard Crane (Michael Kitchen) isn’t exactly worthy of sympathy. Still, carrying on a clandestine affair in a hospital where lips are loose is a risky business.

But practical matters don’t much concern hunky Dr. Springer in this glib six-hour “Masterpiece Theater” mini. He’s more interested in amour. Anna, on the other hand, is a bit more level-headed. Sure, she’s attracted to Springer, but she’s happily married to Richard, even if he is a bit of a stuffed shirt. Richard, though, isn’t quite so content: He’s having a bit on the side with Vivien Reid (Daniela Nardini), a humorless hospital administrator.

When Anna finds out that Richard isn’t the faithful husband she assumed (thanks to a bit of trickery courtesy of Owen), her world collapses — not exactly what Owen intended, but he’ll take what he can get as he embarks on a serious campaign to woo her away from Richard.

Against all this romantic Sturm und Drang (in which we see a fair amount of skin), a number of subplots unwind. Anna’s mother, Myrtle Fairley (Margery Mason), suffers from Alzheimer’s and is variously under the care of Anna, Richard and Owen. Though Paul Abbott’s script at times uses Myrtle as a foil for comic effect, Mason plays the old lady with dignity. Indeed, the best scene in this rather too-long mini finds Myrtle poignantly recalling her days as a newlywed.

Then there’s Owen’s taciturn, working-class dad, Arnold (David Bradley), whose illness brings Owen back to town in the first place. The two enjoy a testy relationship, and Arnold, who is apparently fit enough to enjoy long nights at the pub, generally regards Owen as a nuisance.

Two of Owen’s horny doctor pals, John McGinley (Conor Mullen) and Danny Glassman (Julian Rhind-Tutt), provide Owen with lots of gossip, but also warn him to drop his infatuation with Dr. Crane’s frau. As sidekicks they’re pleasant enough, but they lack real personality, which is surprising given that there’s six hours in which to turn these stick figures into actual characters.

Abbott’s script has strong points (the complexity of the love triangle) and weak ones (making Vivien a bitch), but the chemistry between Green and Annis provides more than enough fuel to drive the sometimes sluggish engine. A fittingly vague ending concludes the series, but Abbott has penned “Reckless, the Sequel,” set to premiere April 18.


PBS; Sun. March 28, April 4, April 11, 9 p.m.


Filmed in England by Granada Television and presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Executive producer, Carolyn Reynolds; producer, Sita Williams; directors, David Richards, Sarah Harding; writer, Paul Abbott.


Production design, Christopher J. Truelove; camera, Lawrence Jones; editor, Peter Hallworth; sound, Nick Steer; music, Chris Gunning, Hal Lindes. Running time: 6 HOURS.


Owen Springer - Robson Green
Anna Fairley - Francesca Annis
Richard Crane - Michael Kitchen
Arnold Springer - David Bradley
Vivien Reid - Daniela Nardini
John McGinley - Conor Mullen
Danny Glassman - Julian Rhind-Tutt
Myrtle Fairley - Margery Mason
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